Mercury and Argus
- oil on wood panel
- 49.3 × 64.5 cm
- Accession Number
- International Painting
- Credit Line
- National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented through The Art Foundation of Victoria by Mr James Fairfax AO, Honorary Life Benefactor, 1996
- Gallery location
- 17th Century & Flemish Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International
Baron Descamps, Brussels private collection, Brussels included in Sotheby's sale, London, 6 December, 1989, no. 52 as ex collection Baron Descamps bought by Colnaghi (dealer), London, 1991 from whom purchased by James Fairfax, Sydney, 1991 collection of James Fairfax, Sydney, 1991–96 by whom presented to the NGV, through The Art Foundation of Victoria, 1996.
- In 1620 Jordaens first painted Ovid’s mythological story of Mercury and Argus, a tale of the god Jupiter’s transformation of his nymph conquest, Io, into a white heifer. In jealousy Jupiter’s wife Juno sent Argus, disguised as a herdsman, to watch Io, but was foiled when Jupiter dispatched Mercury to lull Argus to sleep and decapitate him. The painting, now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon, displayed Jordaen’s flamboyant use of colour, lighting and fluid countour. It was so well-known that Jean-Antoine Watteau reproduced it in his 1721 sign for the Paris picture dealer Gersaint. Fifteen years later Jordaens, by then a leading Flemish painter, produced this smaller replica.